People to Watch 2014
This year’s “People to Watch” class is as diverse in backgrounds and roles in the community as any in Frederick Magazine’s history. On the following pages you will read about business people, a physician who is also a spokesman for the local Muslim community, a professional dedicated to preventing domestic violence, a farmer championing the “eat local” movement and an advocate for the community’s troubled youth.
Though they represent a range of interests, they each find a place in the mosaic that makes Frederick County a great place.
With more than 20 years in the medical field, from the fast-paced world of the emergency room to quietly caring for patients in their homes, registered nurse Kathy Tyeryar suddenly became a patient herself. The experience prompted her to create Option2Heal, a business that provides support and advocacy for patients on the road to recovery.
FM: How did all this come together?
Kathy: I started Option2Heal on Jan. 1 of this year. I had been thinking about it since last May when, during 15 hours of surgery, I had a 3.6-centimeter tumor removed that was attached to my auditory nerve pressing on my brain stem. I had been having symptoms but ignoring them. My balance was off, I was a little dizzy. … In the first months of recovery I was living in a little hole, I was petrified … so I focused on getting healthy. I thought to myself, God has my attention and I’ve got to do something and give back, I have to help others who have little support or who don’t qualify for home health assistance.
FM: How is your health now?
Kathy: It was not cancer, a blessing in all this. I’m deaf on my left side and I still have a piece of the tumor and as long as it doesn’t do anything, I’m fine. I’m doing physical therapy to retrain the muscles of my face. People think I have a smirk now.
FM: What steps have you taken so far in your business?
Kathy: The first three months I spent networking and getting the word out, I let go of all the fear and stepped up and got serious about it. I came up with the name Option2Heal because if you think about it, it is an option. You could just have a pity party or make changes. My website is launched. I have been reaching out to doctors, trying to build relationships, and I have my first client, also an acoustic neuroma patient.
FM: What is your goal?
Kathy: I became a nurse to make a difference, but I want to impact people’s lives even more. My goal is to be a patient advocate [so they] are safe at home. I’m a navigator. When medical discharge instructions are given—they’re thick like a book—the patient is still kind of out of it and their loved ones may not be really absorbing the instructions. There’s that deer in the headlights look. When they get home there may be other issues to address. Are there balance issues? Vision issues? Pain control? … My experience as a patient really opened my eyes to where we need to improve health care.
FM: What gives you motivation?
Kathy: My word for this year is believe, and I truly believe this is what I’m supposed to do. I walk every day four to five miles and I do yoga to help with my balance. I’ve always been able to laugh. My husband has been my rock and my kids have been amazing.
Farmer and Local Agriculture Advocate
He has the toughened hands of someone who makes his living working the earth and tinkering with machinery. Kip Kelley, of Full Cellar Farms in Jefferson, also has the classroom knowledge of how to build a business. All this combines with his friendly nature and ease of talking about anything from how he raises his chickens to the best recipes for kale that makes him the go-to guy at farmer’s markets.
FM: Did you always know you wanted to be a farmer?
Kip: I grew up on a sheep farm that my mother, Annie Kelley, had. I knew I’d be a farmer, but didn’t know what kind of farmer. I thought I would be a teacher part time and also farm, so I studied education. I taught for a little while and then I realized there wasn’t enough time for farming.
FM: What are some other experiences that led to your career?
Kip: I’ve always known my wife since we were this high and her dad needed some help on his farm [which is where Full Cellar Farm operates]. I found a career and a wife at the same time. I must have done something right. My wife’s a vet—not practicing—and when she went out to Oklahoma State I followed her out there and got my MBA and master’s in entrepreneurship. I realized that was my weakest area and that I wanted to be able to balance the books and make good business decisions. The thesis was to start a business and I came up with the concept and a logo.
FM: Do you see Frederick County remaining strong in agriculture?
Kip: I still think it’s a farming county and I think in some ways Frederick County is perfect for the kind of farming I do. Sure, there’s traffic congestion, but we’re only an hour from D.C. and Baltimore—I do a market in Washington—and it’s a nice balance. I feel bad for the farmers in Iowa and Minnesota who have to drive three hours to get to market. … I think when more people are eating locally, more farms will stick around locally.
FM: Do you enjoy the personal interaction of the markets?
Kip: Yes. The customers are the reason I’m in business. If a crop isn’t doing well, they’re super-understanding and patient. I get good feedback from them. I would say half the conversations are about recipes and how to cook things. There are a lot of adventurous customers out there.
FM: What do you see in the future for the eating local movement?
Kip: I see it taking off even more. I sometimes think that when my son is a teenager I’ll be driving down roads where you used to see just corn and soybeans and there will be cauliflower and tomatoes, or more of it at least.
Owner, Posh Bridal
A wedding is many things, but foremost it’s the blending of families, something uppermost in the mind of Brandi Berheimer-Tan, owner of Posh Bridal in Urbana. From when a bride tries on her first gown to when she exchanges her vows, dressed in the gown of her dreams, she is part of the family in Berheimer-Tan’s eyes.
FM: You opened your business in 2012 when the economy was still rather shaky. Was it scary?
Brandi: It was very intimidating, but I love the industry, I have a passion for what I do and I knew I could make it happen. My first shop was a little teeny one, 800 square feet, and we outgrew it in nine months. We moved [to the Villages of Urbana] where we have 2,000 feet and honestly, we’re outgrowing that as well. This summer we’re opening a second shop in Gaithersburg.
FM: What makes your business so successful?
Brandi: I think first is honesty. We’re up front and honest. We take one appointment at a time, so you have our undivided attention; you have the whole store to yourself. And there’s the fact we have an in-house seamstress who was a costume designer on Broadway. She’s incredibly talented. We’ve mixed together and created something special. … I have three kids and four days after my youngest was born he was in here with me. We don’t keep our personal lives separate [from the business]. I tell the brides, ‘Welcome to the Posh family.’ I’ve had a lot of their sisters, friends, cousins and even mothers doing a second wedding coming back.
FM: Are there actually bridezillas? Or is this something cooked up by reality TV?
Brandi: [Laughing] There are bridezillas and momzillas, as well. I think with the moms, this is their second chance at a wedding; they may be thinking, ‘This is what I would have wanted.’ … If a bride wants my opinion, I’ll give it and I’m honest. At the end of the day, you are my bride and if you don’t look amazing then others are not going to come to me.
FM: Do you watch Say Yes to the Dress, TLC network’s reality show?
Brandi: Yes, not because I enjoy it. I’m doing it for work. It’s the first thing brides refer to when they come in. They’ll say did you see the dress in this or that episode?
FM: Have you had brides that cried over finding their perfect dress, a staple on the show?
Brandi: Absolutely. I’ve had brides that cry and those who don’t; it’s personality. We try to put them in 10 to 12 styles and I’m still shocked by how many say, ‘Yes’ the first time out.
FM: What did your wedding dress look like?
Brandi: It was fitted to the hip, had a sweetheart neckline, lace all over, with a bling belt. I saw it on the runway in New York and knew it would be perfect for a beach wedding.
Brandon Chapman faced tragedy at age 13 —a house fire that claimed two lives and left another severely injured—that prompted a personal tailspin into many troubled years. He uses that experience today in his dual roles as Youth Service Coordinator for the Housing Authority of the City of Frederick and Coordinator for the Police Athletic League (PAL).
FM: What does a Youth Service Coordinator do?
Brandon: The Youth Service Coordinator entails a lot. I help the kids in public housing with their education, so I go from school to school—elementary school, middle school, high school—to try to get our kids as much support as possible. Every week I go to visit a different kid on a different day. It’s my job to get them the academic support, pair them up with tutors, and get them connected with after-school activities they could benefit from, and that’s where my job at the Police Activities League comes into play.
FM: So you pretty much follow the youth from school to after school?
Brandon: I work from 11 to 4 with the Housing Authority, going into schools, then at 4 o’clock I get to take off my dress shirt, put on my basketball shoes and play around with the kids. We also have a homework hour at the PAL Center and that’s where my tutors come in.
FM: So you probably work with the same kids in both jobs?
Brandon: Same kids. My big thing is community. The old saying is, “It takes a village to raise a child.” And I don’t feel like we are doing that anymore, maybe that’s why we are struggling as much as we are. It’s all about the community.
FM: How long have you been doing this?
Brandon: I’ve been working with PAL for two years and the Housing Authority for three months. It all stemmed from my own troublesome teenage years into my early 20s. I found God, I found my purpose in life, what I should be doing with myself. I started up a summer camp four years ago that taught Christ-like characteristics at Frederick Christian Fellowship, and this is what led me to everything.
FM: Is there a message you are trying to get across to the young people?
Brandon: I’m trying to get them to have hope in themselves, believe in themselves and plant the vision in their head that they can be somebody. Because, unfortunately, they don’t have a lot of people who support them and help them envision where they will be in the future—and not just how to envision it, but how to reach it.
FM: How rewarding is it?
Brandon: Is it a wonderful feeling, for one, to work and love what you are doing. But when you see a kid who had straight Fs and just by me making him being held accountable, he goes to having one C on his report card … when you sit back and take a bird’s-eye view of what has happened, it’s an amazing feeling.
Crisis Services Director, Heartly House
Few people can claim a greater involvement in the effort to prevent domestic violence than Michelle Pentony. She is both a leader and a foot soldier for Heartly House, an organization that provides comprehensive services for victims and survivors of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, and child abuse. She oversees all of the organization’s crisis services, including its 24-hour hotline, and also works with partners in law enforcement and the medical profession. But she also still works one-on-one with victims and survivors.
FM: How did you get involved with this?
Michelle: I have been involved in Heartly House for 14 years. I started as a volunteer and wanted to get involved in the community. At the time, we still had Volunteer Frederick, so I reached out to them and they talked about, “What’s your passion? What’s your interest?” They connected me with Heartly House and I immediately found my niche.
FM: What do you love about the work?
Michelle: I love being able to provide a victim, who oftentimes does not feel safe or comfortable sharing their trauma, a place that’s safe for them—to be there as someone begins to process and not have to worry about being ‘victim blamed’ or carry that shame that sometimes comes along with that kind of trauma. I really like the community work I get to do, too, working with first-responders, law enforcement and nurses. But overall, I can go to work every day and know I made a difference. That’s a really amazing feeling.
FM: But it must be difficult working with some of these domestic violence situations.
Michelle: Yes, it is, but you have to have very good boundaries—being able to know that when I am at work I give 100 percent of myself, but I can only do so much and the rest has to be in the hands of the client. I have to be OK with that. And when I leave work, I have to leave work at work and have my own life that I go into that’s fulfilling and practicing my own self-care. I’m huge into yoga and that really grounds me and helps me do this work.
FM: How rewarding is the work?
Michelle: It’s beyond rewarding. If you are working with a victim who is just beginning to recognize what they are experiencing is not healthy and they learn to become more self-sufficient, that can be a huge success. Or you could be working with a domestic violence victim who leaves her partner or a sexual assault victim who has the tools to start their healing process. It doesn’t have to be this big, elaborate outcome for it to feel rewarding.
FM: How difficult is it seeing cases that don’t go well?
Michelle: Statistics show in intimate-partner violence it takes a victim seven times to leave before leaving for good. But I think knowing that the clients we serve ultimately have tools that they did not have before … they are still safer and empowered because of the work they did with us. So it’s planting little seeds.
Dr. Syed Haque
Physician, Muslim Advocate
The terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, reverberated in many areas of the United States, including Muslim communities concerned about being stereotyped in the aftermath. At the forefront of the local effort to make the case for American Muslims is Dr. Syed Haque, an internist who is also president of the Frederick County Muslim Council and the United Maryland Muslim Council.
FM: What do your organizations do?
Syed: There are two purposes. The first thing, the most important thing, is to bring Muslims into the political arena of the country. The reason for that is 99 percent of the Muslims who reside in America—my generation—come from non-democratic countries. So I need to teach them the blessings they have in this country.
FM: Why do they need to be taught this?
Syed: Muslims are not so much aware of democracy, the processes of democracy, so they sit in their homes, watch their television, and if their kids are doing very well in school, that is fine. They have a good car, they have a large television screen and, for them, job security. But if they have decided to come here, to live in a democratic country, they have to be in the [political] processes so their children will know what their rights are.
FM: What is the second purpose?
Syed: The second objective is humanitarian. We have collected food for the people here in Frederick. We have done a lot of joint programs with the food bank and soup kitchen. We have very good relationships with different churches in town, so we attend interfaith meetings to make them understand our perspective, especially after 9/11.
FM: You moved to Frederick in May 2001, just months before the attacks.
Syed: Thank God in Frederick people are so good that we never felt discrimination.
FM: Is it hard being a Muslim in Frederick County? In the United States?
Syed: Not at all. Listen, I can call the chief of police if there is a problem. I think we have become successful by forming those kinds of relationships. … I have seen quite a few countries and cities, but nothing is like the United States. We take this country for granted.
FM: Because of the freedoms?
Syed: The freedoms … even the landscape, the land terrain, the climate. You can go to a marshy place like Florida or a cold place like Alaska, you can go to the Rocky Mountains or you can go to the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. We live in a beautiful land.
FM: Since you are still a relatively recent transplant to the area, tell us something about Frederick that locals have overlooked.
Syed: People forget that Frederick has some of the best medical care in America for a town its size. Do you know how many doctors have privileges at Frederick Memorial Hospital? More than 400. … If your primary care doctor has good connections with specialists, you are in good hands. You will not find this kind of care in other towns this size.